Coast Guard conducts oil spill response exercise in Stono River

JOHNS ISLAND, SC (WCSC) – The Coast Guard is teaming up with local agencies to conduct an oil spill response exercise on the Stono River.

Coast Guard Sector Charleston is conducting the exercise until 4 p.m. Tuesday on the Stono River west of the Limehouse Bridge. The Coast Guard is working in partnership with the Department of Health and Environmental Control, the emergency response company HEPACO, Coast Guard Station Charleston and the Coast Guard Auxiliary.

The purpose of the exercise is to practice pollution response mitigation techniques in accordance with the South Carolina coastal area contingency plan.

Ships come through the harbor and trucks drive over bridges carrying hazardous materials through Charleston every day. If those materials spill in the water as a result of a wreck or accidental discharge, they can kill fish and other wildlife.

The Coast Guard needs to be prepared. They practiced their emergency first response by simulating a truck wreck off of the Limehouse Bridge.

"Our scenario was a tanker truck that had overturned and the probability of that happening is very good because of the traffic here," said Lieutenant J.G. Matt Kahley.

In the drill they geared their response to 6,000 gallons of oil spilled into the water. For this exercise, the Coast Guard used peat moss to simulate the oil since it floats on top of the water like oil and can be corralled with the booms.

Khaley said that just last year in the Charleston sector, the Coast Guard responded to around 100 spills.

It is the Coast Guard's mission to ensure waterways are safe for present and future generations, but it is the waterway user's responsibility to ensure the marine environment and its inhabitants do not suffer because of carelessness.

For more on the exercise, including video, check back later at

Copyright 2010 WCSC. All rights reserved.